Recently I read this quote from Jules Dervaes from the urbanhomestead.org “In our society growing food yourself has become the most radical of acts. It is truly the only effective protest one that can and will overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in harmony with nature, we do the one thing most essential to change the world. We change ourselves.”
Confession: being the somewhat cynical pragmatist that I can be when I first read the quote I thought. Really Jules you are being a little dramatic aren’t you? Here is where I am coming from. I grew up eating local, going to roadside stands and getting big boxes of fresh produce or going to the fields or our garden and picking our own and then canning and preserving mass amounts of food at my mother’s side. It was just a way of life. Passed down as so many domestic arts are from generation to generation. Nothing special. Local was just our lifestyle.
A couple of years ago when we started a family growing food became even more important to me because I really want my children to know where their food comes from. I want them to know that growing food is hard valuable work. I want them to plant a seed, water it and watch it grow until it produces a harvest and then pluck the fruit from the plant and consume it still sun warmed from the garden because that is a feeling that you just cannot duplicate. Working hard and seeing the fruit of your labor. Or having a hard year and having something not produce the way you would like it too. That lesson is just as valuable. And these are the lessons that happen right in the backyard.
Last year we started a bold experiment. We allowed our raised beds to expand into our front yard. It was really exciting actually. It allowed us to double our garden space and landscape in one fell swoop. My mission was to show that vegetable gardens can be beautiful. It is a work in progress. But it is really fun to plan and plant and grow. And it is really fun to get my kids out there even in the front yard digging and weeding and watering. So many valuable lessons are coming out of the garden (as well as some tasty vegetables).
I’ve seen my kids get really excited about trying new vegetables (win!!!). If it comes from the garden they are more than willing to give it a chance. Now they have discovered some favorites and some that are not so favorite. But they are trying and I can ask no more.
Ok so at this point we are keeping money out of big corporations hands. That is a good thing. But changing the world and overturning corporate powers. I don’t know. But then I started thinking why do I want my children involved in the garden? And I came up with a list.
I involve my children in the garden for five main reasons.
1. The sheer joy of seeing them dig in the dirt. Getting outside smooths frazzled nerves quiets the mind and reminds us of our creator. He is everywhere outside. From the grand sunset displays to the soft moss underfoot. Just stopping and seeing simple green beauty is worth it.
2. I want to teach my children the value of work. The garden is a small way to do that. I give my kids daily tasks, watering, weeding even pruning (under my supervision of course). I want my kids to know that work is valuable and it reaps rewards.
3. Things that matter aren’t always instant. So much of life is about waiting and being faithful to the task at hand. The garden illustrates this beautifully. So much time is spent prepping and caring for plants and a disproportionately small amount of time is spent harvesting and gaining reward. However, you can find joy in the tending.
4. There are seasons. In life and the garden there are seasons. Seasons of joy and sorrow. Seasons of preparation and fulfillment. There is death and rebirth sometimes even simultaneously. But things are always changing. That is the constant of this life. Things will never be what they were but they are what they are now.You can’t go back to last season but you can make the best of this season. It is in learning and accepting and adapting and surrendering to the Gardener’s hand we thrive.
5. Small things grow into big things. You will reap what you sow. A carrot seed becomes a carrot. A tomato tomato. A thistle, a thistle. It is the same in our lives. Kindness begets kindness. Joy, joy and hate, hate.
It really isn’t about overturning corporate powers, that isn’t my goal anyway it is about teaching lessons of the heart. They are the real legacy that I want to pass on to my children. Now if certain seed modifiers are brought down in the process that is great but it isn’t the main reason I do what I do.
In the end, maybe Jules Dervaes was right. Maybe the simple act of getting outside and cultivating rows of fruits and vegetables does change us. Maybe being in nature attunes us to God’s work in our own lives and maybe it allows us to plant good seeds in our children’s hearts that will grow and produce hearts that are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s moving. I can think of no better reason to get out and start a garden!